My Story..Sorry if I ramble, Excuse spelling and non sequiturs, but it’s from the heart, and I needed to say it somewhere. MK
Maybe more to come someday.
America has not been too good to me. I need to vent a bit. Maybe this isn’t the proper venue to do this, but here I go anyway. In a lot of ways this diary has a lot to do with current and past political conditions, and a lot of the fights I stand for, and I hope I try to lead. So, maybe it is proper. I leave it to you to judge.
Here’s my story. I’ve worked hard since I graduated from college as an EE. I worked extra hard and graduated in 3 years. I entered the workplace at 21. I took a job as a field engineer and lived out of my suitcase working all over the Mid-Atlantic, New-England, and Mid-West. I got $180 per week as “per diem” to cover my food, housing, and travel expenses, which, of course it didn’t, so I lived in flea bag hotels, and ate crud, and worked hard to make my employer happy. After 3 years of this, and due to miss-management by the parent company I got laid off. I was rated as the top engineer in my region, but one of my peers mother was sleeping with the boss, and another had a father who was an exec at the Co. so they got to stay, I got laid off. This was my first taste of how the game gets played here in the good old USA. Work hard, Do Good, Make Something of yourself, and “You’ll go Far”…. Yeah, Right… I did that, and I got laid off… I lived in hell holes that would make your skin crawl, I worked a year of 3rd shift, I spent all my time living out of my trunk and a suitcase on the road, doing what the Co. asked of me, but when it came down to it. It just didn’t matter. Moving on….
I then moved to NJ and became a “consultant” this means I was a gun for hire, taking any engineering job that came up with NO benefits whatsoever, subject to dismissal at a moment’s notice, no job security at all, BUT you got paid by the hour, AND you got paid at a rate 1/3 to ½ better than most! So I took out a disability, and major medical policy (i.e. if you wound up in a hospital, you were covered), and off I went. I worked a lot of different contracts, some of them 6 months long, some of them 3 years long. All the time you held your breath. When would I be on the street. I never took a vacation. I hoarded every penny for the day I would be let go.
The up side was I got a lot of diverse experience very fast, the downside was a lot of stress and a lot of moving. From 1987 to 1999 I moved every 2 years without fail! Every job required at least a 1 hour commute each way! Every time I would move to be close to a jobsite, the job would disappear, or move. Just as an aside, they say that one of the most stressful things in life is moving, so imagine having to pick-up your entire life and moving it, every 2 years!
In 1992 my father became very ill, and I am an only child, he had gone to see many doctors, but none of them would look past his odd, superficial symptoms, to look at the deeper underlying issues, and find out what was really killing him. So, I decided to break my current contract in NJ, and move back home to PA and look after him, and my mother. Of course the contract house in NJ decided to screw me out of several thousand dollars for doing this, but I took a job in Baltimore, and looked after my family. My father died in 1994 of heart valve failure. This is after going to Dr. after Dr. and having them fixate on the odd fact that he had a low red blood count (attributable to a genetic condition to which we provided ample documentation, another story I could write volumes about) Then finally, after he was SO sick, and SO debilitated, they FINALLY came and said. “Oh, he has a bad heart valve, too bad, it’s too late, and he’s going to die. There’s nothing we can do!” I completely lost my faith in the medical world, and in there being a God in that year.
After that my job took me to Canada for a year. I found out that universal health care is a great thing. People do not stand in line for crappy medicine! Everyone loves their health care, and I wondered “Why don’t WE have this?”
Moving on… Finally in 1996 I got tired of being a hired gun, a “consultant” as it were, and took a permanent job with a start up Co. in MD. I did well, I was promoted to director. I was given stock options, and all was good. This was the time of the “Tech Bubble”, but we didn’t know it then. Over the years as a “consultant” I had religiously put my $3K/year in an IRA for my retirement, and had tried to keep 6mo to a year’s income in saving as a cushion in case of that dreaded severance. So, I was sitting in good territory for the time. I had a decent job, was getting good pay, had options, had a cushion, all-in-all was living well. In 1999 I finally bought a house and settled down in 1 place. I bought in the Eastern Pan-Handle of WV. I figured it was a 1 hour commute to my job in MD, and was a 1 hour commute to the boiling jobs in Northern VA. Plus it was a 1 hour train ride to DC. SO, compared to my past it was centrally located, and had the benefit of low taxes, and some rural taste.
Then George W. got elected, and the masters of the universe took over! Well, maybe a little before that… It couldn’t be stood that us little folks had wealth, so the tech bubble had to be burst!! I had held off in putting any of my hard earned money into the market until the last moment but I took $300K and put it in the market around New Year. I had held off for all those raging years, with everyone sneering at me for being silly for not cashing in on the “bull market”, and by April… I was GONE! It was $40K… The bubble had burst and I had lost it. Today still I kick myself in the ass for not having just used it to pay off my house! AND NEXT….
I was laid off! For 2 years! They cashed in my vested options which gave me $300K but I had just gotten married. I was 38 years old, finally decided to live a little, get married, see the world, breath, take some vacation…. SURPRISE! I couldn’t get a job to save my soul! No one wanted a tech person! We were on the streets by the thousands! Especially if you were a “Director”, i.e. senior, and looking for a good paycheck. But finally in 2003 I got a new job for a $30K pay cut!
By this time whatever money I had from the options had been burned through since I was trying to set up a life with a new wife. Plus I was trying to learn how to live under a new budget paradigm! Now I had a new job with a severely reduced pay! The Co. didn’t last long. Now I’m back on the street again. Another year without work, and now I’m living on credit cards. A couple of more hit a miss jobs where they hire and drop me under poor business conditions. I refi the house to pay off the credit cards BUT NOW I’m trapped in the Mortgage Bubble, that we don’t know is coming!
I finally get a decent job as the director of QA at a start up Co. for people who really do respect hard work, and spend 3 years wearing several hats, traveling around the country making the product successful, and we get bought out by Cisco! They make me a great offer (golden handcuffs) to stay with them, but I need to move to the middle of nowhere Ohio! I don’t want to leave my home, my wife doesn’t want to move to Ohio, I’m afraid that if things fall apart in Ohio I’m stuck in No-Job hell, in the middle of no-where, so I decline.
Luckily I get picked up by another start-up as director of QA right away, but it’s a red herring. They only want to declare the mantle of quality without actually enacting the practice of quality. In only a year, and, of course in the face of the 2009 collapse, they fired me. 9 more months of unemployment for me!
As you can see the 1st decade of the new millennium has been not a lot of fun for me! It’s been set back after set back. Pay loss after pay loss. Standard of living set back after set back. My nerves are shot. I went on Zoloft in 2000 to try and deal with my mounting depression and sadness, it never go t much better. I tried to make my new wife happy starting with our marriage in 2002, but my economic situation always got in the way. We wanted to have children, but since it was always a struggle to deal with us, when was it a good time for children?
After 9 months of unemployment, more credit card living, I finally found a job as a peon at a govt. contractor, only thanks to a friend of a friend. I was happy to be at work, and attacked the job as I do every job, and dug in with 100% vigor. Then I found out that that’s not what they wanted, or needed! This had got to be the sickest work environment I’ve ever been in during my entire career! My 1st assignment was to write/adapt a test plan from a previous Co. I did it in 2 weeks, I think they expected it to take 6 months. When I was done I asked “what’s next”.. No one would answer. I kept asking, and asking, up the ladder… Until It started a shit storm! Finally there was this giant meeting with directors and all sorts of people, and all sorts of angst, and I obviously made all kinds of enemies, just for asking, “What’s next, I’m done, Give me some work please”… I started looking for a new job on that very day! That was March of 2010, and I’ve been looking ever since!
Here’s the job market for a man with about 30 years experience, as an engineer, with great success, and wonderful references, in today’s market:
- Send out hundreds of resumes and have them ignored,
- Get calls from recruiters and head hunters, but when they find out your age/salary requirements get blown off on BOGUS excuses,
- Get called in on interviews for jobs that have nothing to do with your qualifications,
- Gat called in on interviews and then have people put tests in front of you for a Jr developer (mind you, you are not a developer),
- Go to interviews and spend hours and be told you have the job and never hear from them again
- Get called in 3 or 4 times for an interviews, and then be told you’re going to get paperwork, and then never hear from them again,
- Get called in for jobs, and interviews, then have some minor checklist item be the thing that you are told is the thing that you are being blown off for… e.g. the job requires 15 years experience, you have 30, but your experience is telecom/datacom, and the want more Cisco, the fact that Cisco wanted to hire you doesn’t seem to matter..
In other words…WTF! The bottom line is they don’t actually want to seem to hire people! In truth they don’t want to hire a 50 yo guy who will jack up their medical plan rates, and wants a real wage! We can hire a bunch of kids for that price and they have no health plan down side!
So, here I am, working a peon job, getting shit on BIG TIME every day by people who hate my guts! My bosses hate me b’cuz they know I know their job better than they do. They have their jobs through Peter Principal. They are ass kissers, back stabbers, and empire builders. My Co-workers hate me b’cuz I do my job, don’t kiss ass, back stab, or play games, and they can’t figure me out. I work in a Darwinian hell-hole! You have to eat what you kill. You can only work if you can snag a project from someone else. Get a “charge number” for your time sheet be stabbing someone else to claim your kill. This is the sickest shit I’ve ever seen! I don’t want to be a part of it!
My mental health is declining daily. This is what this economy has brought me to. I was happy, sort of, once. You’ve read of what I’ve done, and put up with through my life, but here I am. I live from day to day now. Sick, depressed, sad. Yes, my wife left me in August. With a note that said “I’m leaving and I’m not coming back” with her ring on top. Why, because I couldn’t keep her in the way she had become accustomed.
I’m alone, I’m broke, I can’t quit this sick shit job. How the mighty have fallen! Now we look to Washington, what do they do for us Dem. And Repug.. Take SS. Take Medicare. Prop up the Banksters..
I didn’t even discuss my Moms death, and how it affected me, and jobs, and how without Medicare it would have killed us, and how if my dad hadn’t been in a union and his benefits!
Another day….. Enough for now… I’m Tired.